Thus far, 2014 has seen some amazingly large releases. Over time, publishers have allocated more and more resources to the marketing and advertisements of their next “huge” games. There’s little question that the hobby of “gaming” is expanding; more people and more different kinds of people are playing more video games. With an ever-increasing fan base, it only makes sense that publishers are taking their marketing interests to new, more ambitious heights. 2014 alone has found some support in this assertion by way of such blockbuster titles as Titanfall, Watch Dogs, and Destiny.
Each of these games has been backed by a hype train powered by a lightning bolt from Zeus himself. But besides this, what else do they have in common? Each of them was met with a large sigh of disappointment, as, en masse, both fans and critics found them each underwhelming, not living up to their high pre-launch expectations. With the most recent release of Destiny just last week, we’ve experienced on at least three separate occasions this year some deflating game-launch disappointment.
There are, however, two specific things that we have learned from these launches, or that, at the very least, we should have learned.
1. Games will NEVER meet the expectations set by hype trains
Now don’t mistake this for me saying that video games are doomed to become a dying medium of entertainment due to a lack of quality. But before we talk about the quality of these games themselves, we need to discuss what exactly establishes these high expectations.
Bear in mind that video games are products, and these products form the bases of business (and paychecks) for many people and companies. The goal of any such business is to maximize the amount of money made off of any product or service. One of the more controversial methods of maximizing revenue these days is advertisement and marketing. Bringing the discussion back to titles like Titanfall, Watch Dogs, and Destiny, it is the job of any marketer to make these products look as amazing as they possibly can. Any person or organization hired for this job who did anything short of making these games look mind-blowingly incredible ought to have been fired.
Often, this will involve stretching the truth a bit. But as long as lies are not being told about these games, some of these misgivings can be forgiven. Ultimately, suggestive marketing is okay, selective marketing is okay, but deceptive marketing is not. In the campaigns of these three games, there was no real flat-out deceptive marketing to be found.
Some may argue with the seemingly unethical practice of marketing only a game’s best elements and completely ignoring its shortcomings. In all reality, an ethical person shouldn’t do this. But this is one such argument best countered with a simple question: if you were hired to market a game, would you advertise a game’s weak points? If you answered yes, you’re a good person, congrats. If you answered no, you’ll probably be called into your boss’ office for a promotion, congrats.
Now, understanding that marketers need to make games look as good as absolutely possible, it isn’t a stretch to see why games will never be able to meet the expectations set by marketing campaigns. In essence, these games are supposed to be made to look as close to perfect as possible. A firm grasp of reality will indicate that the likelihood of any game coming that close to perfection is slim at absolute best. Though this grim outlook for perfection is not a bad thing, an idea which very conveniently brings us to the next big take-home message…